Tag Archives: Matthew

Was the “Last Supper” a “Passover Meal”?

The Pre-Passover MealSome believe that the last meal which Christ shared with His disciples, is a “Passover meal”. There are valid reasons for this connection to have been made. In this short study, it will be our aim to check whether the “last supper” was a “Passover meal” or not. If it is, indeed a “Passover Meal”, then the communion taken by millions of Christians worldwide every week, signifies this meal. If it was Christ’s last meal that He taught to be kept as a remembrance, it makes a significant difference in how we view the Last Supper of our Lord.

This post is broken down into these parts
1. What we know about the Biblical Passover Commandment
2. Discrepancies in the Gospels? Or a simple misunderstanding?
3. Was the Last Supper a Passover Seder?
4. Was Christ partaking in a Passover meal?
5. Conclusion

Required Reading
What is the Biblical Day, Week, Month, Year? and does it really matter?
Good Friday or Passover?
Did Christ die on a Friday? The fulfillment of the Sign of Jonah

1. What we know about the Biblical Passover Commandment
1. The Passover meal is consumed at the end of the Passover day, at sunset, when the 15th day is starting, and has to be consumed before the next sunrise(Exo 12:8-10). Effectively, it is consumed on the 1st day of Unleavened Bread before the coming dawn. The Passover day would be on the 14th day of the 1st Biblical month, and does not align in anyway to the current Gregorian calendar which is used by everyone today.
2. The meal itself consists of 3 things, namely, a) Lamb roasted in fire b) Bitter Herbs & c) Unleavened Bread(Exo 12:8).
3. The Passover Lamb was killed on the 14th Day of the 1st Biblical Month, which is the Passover Day, in the evening(Exo 12:6)
4. The Passover Lambs were to be sacrificed at the Temple in Jerusalem, and nowhere else(Deut 16:1-7).
5. This was a commandment which was to be kept forever(Exo 12:24).

2. Discrepancies in the Gospels? Or a simple misunderstanding?
At first sight, the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark & Luke) seem to be in disagreement with John’s Gospel on whether the Last Supper was a Passover meal or not. While Matthew, Mark & Luke seem to be saying that Christ and His disciples were having a Passover Meal, John witnesses that Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) was crucified on the Day of Passover. If the Synoptic Gospels are correct, and they were having the Passover Meal, the crucifixion would have happened on the day preceding Passover, which is the 1st Day of Unleavened Bread – A High/Special Sabbath day(Lev 23:6,7, Joh 19:31). My belief is that all of the Gospel accounts are correct, and that there are no discrepancies between them. Out of the 3 possibilities that arise from the Gospel accounts, only one could be correct – and all 4 gospels need to agree, while disproving the other 2 possibilities. For a timeline of the time from the Last Supper to Christ’s Death, please go here.

CaptureThe 3 possibilities we are left with are:
A) The Last Supper was a Passover Meal & Christ died on the eve of the 1st Day of Unleavened Bread
B) The Last Supper was not a Passover Meal & Christ died on the eve of the day of Passover
C) The Last Supper was a Passover Meal which Christ & His disciples consumed a day earlier, and Christ died on the eve of the day of Passover

Verses that are in need of inspection – Gospel of Matthew
Mat 26:4,5 And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.

Mat 26:17  Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?

Mat 27:15  Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.

Mat 27:62  Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,

Verses that are in need of inspection – Gospel of Mark
Mar 14:1,2
After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people.

Mar 14:12-16 And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover? And he sendeth forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he will shew you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us. And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.

Mar 15:6  Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired.

Mar 15:42  And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,

Verses that are in need of inspection – Gospel of Luke
Luk 22:7-13
Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.

Luk 22:15,16 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.

Luk 23:16,17  I will therefore chastise him, and release him. (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.)

Luk 23:54  And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.

Verses that are in need of inspection – Gospel of John
Joh 13:1,2
Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;

Joh 13:27-29 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.

Joh 18:28  Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.

Joh 18:39  But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?

Joh 19:13,14 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!

Joh 19:31  The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

Joh 19:42  There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

Out of the above verses, John is very clear that the “Last Supper” happened at the start of the Day of Passover. The Passover lambs would be killed at the Temple of Jerusalem on the following day from Noon till Evening, and the meal would be taken afterwards at Sundown as it ushered in the 1st Day of Unleavened Bread.

But why do the Synoptic Gospels give a different story. Or do they? According to Matthew, Mark and Luke – the disciples came to Yeshua and asked about the Passover meal, on the 1st day of Unleavened Bread. At first sight, a person who knows about the Passover may become quite confused, as it seems to be implying the Passover was killed on the 1st day of Unleavened Bread. It would be too late to prepare for a Passover meal on the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, as the Passover was eaten between Sunset and Dawn(refer above graphic). Also it seems to be in direct conflict with their own words where they mention the day of Christ’s crucifixion as “the Day of Preparation”(Mat 27:62, Mar 15:42, Luk 23:54) which was another name for the Day of Passover – as that was when they prepared for the Passover. These verses from the Synoptic Gospels tend to agree with John’s words in 19:14,31&42 as well.

There is a valid reason why the Passover and the 1st Day of Unleavened Bread seem to be mixed up in the Synoptic Gospels. In the 1st Century AD, The Passover & the Week of Unleavened Bread were not counted as 2 different feasts but one. Josephus, the famous 1st Century Historian regarded the feast to last 8 days beginning on the 14th (Antiq II, 15.1). So, when the Synoptic Gospels speak of the 1st Day of Unleavened Bread, it is in fact speaking of the Passover – the Day of Preparation – which all 4 Gospels agree to in Mat 27:62, Mar 15:42, Luk 23:54, Joh19:14,31&42.

We can rule out a crucifixion and death on the day after Passover (1st Day of Unleavened Bread) because of the above reasons. Furthermore, Mat 26:4,5 & Mar 14:2 witnesses that the Chief Priests & Scribes wanted to refrain from putting Yeshua to death on the Feast (The 1st Day of Unleavened Bread was a High/Special Sabbath day where courts would have not operated). Also, we see that the Synoptic Gospels witness that Pilate released a prisoner on the Feast Day(Mat 27:15, Mar 15:6, Luk 23:16,17) which agrees with Joh 18:39 to be the Passover.

3. Was the Last Supper a Passover Seder?
But why then does Christ say “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer” as seen in Luke’s Gospel? Some conclude that Yeshua had the Passover a day before the prescribed time, because of such verses.

Some of the many similarities that are spoken of, between the Passover Meal and the Last Supper are as follows:
(1) The Last Supper took place in Jerusalem
(2) Held in a room made available to pilgrims for that purpose
(3) The meal was held during the night
(4) Christ celebrated the meal with his “family” of disciples
(5) They were reclining while they ate
(6) Bread was broken during the meal
(7) Wine was consumed
(8) A hymn was sung
(9) The symbolic significance of the meal was discussed

Of the above mentioned similarities, most could be part of any meal. The fact remains that the Last Supper was not taken on the eve of Passover, as we have already tested. The eve of Passover, leading to the 1st day of Unleavened Bread, was the time when the Passover meal was commanded to be consumed(Ex 12:2,6, Lev 23:5, Num 9:3). Messiah was crucified on the day of Passover(John 18:28, 19:14) and He died on the evening of the same day (Mat 27:46-50, Mar 15:33-37, Luk 23:44-46). The Last Supper was eaten, the evening before Passover eve, at the start of the Day of Passover. The Biblical Passover meal consisted of Lamb killed at the Temple in Jerusalem on the Day of Passover, Bitter Herbs & Unleavened Bread. None of which are mentioned by the Gospel writers. Even the Bread mentioned by authors of the Synoptic Gospels is regular bread(G740-Artos) and not “unleavened bread”(G106-Azumos). Furthermore, Christ and His disciples could not have been partaking of a seder similar to a Passover meal today, as some believe – reason being, the Passover Seder was created after the destruction of the Temple in 70AD by the Rabbis, and was not in use before.

4. Was Christ partaking in a Passover meal?
The question then remains, why did Yeshua speak of a Passover Meal? A little known fact about the evening before the Passover (evening that starts the 14th of the 1st Biblical Month) is that the Jews in the 1st Century, and even today celebrate the start of the Passover with a meal. Evidence of this tradition can be seen in The Jerusalem Talmud (Jer. Pes. 27d) reckoned that “the Pesach (Passover) of that time to actually begin on the 14th”. The Foundation Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum, edited by Safrai, Stern, Flusser and Van Unnik, produced the work entitled “The Jewish People of the First Century” which states of the evening before Passover (evening which starts the 14th of Abib/Nisan) “The eve itself was a sort of feast because the paschal sacrifice was offered that afternoon” (Volume 2, page 809). The Last Supper was most probably a Pre-Passover Meal that was shared in anticipation of the Passover ahead.

Luk 22:15,16 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.

As we see in Luke’s testimony, this Pre-Passover meal was the closest Christ would be to sharing a Passover meal with His disciples. He had desired to eat the Passover together with His disciples before He suffered, but knew that He would not be alive the next evening. He wishes to share this missed Passover Meal with them, when He returns again and tells them He would not partake of it till then. Looking at this verse in this sense aligns with all of the other verses, as the Last Supper is clearly not a Passover Meal, but a Pre-Passover meal.

5. Conclusion
The Last Supper was a meal shared at the beginning of the 14th Day of the 1st Month of the Biblical Year. Although the Synoptic Gospels and John’s Gospel seem to be contradicting each other, they all agree that Christ died on the Passover and the Last Supper was held the night before. The Last Supper may seem like a Passover seder, but there isn’t enough evidence to prove the likeness of this theory. The Last Supper would have most probably been a Pre-Passover meal shared in celebration of the ushering in of the Passover day, and the upcoming Sacrifice, through which we came out of slavery to Sin, just as the Israelites came out of slavery to Egypt.

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What’s “out of place” in this picture of the Birth of Christ?

NativityChristmas is around the corner, and we can hear carols playing on the radio already. Shops are getting ready with their Christmas sales and people are getting ready to decorate their houses. One of the main pieces of decoration in many Christian homes would be the “Nativity Scene”, “Manger Scene” or “Crib” as it is known, which is the depiction of the Birth of Yeshua (Jesus’ true name). This story is by far, one that is read more than any other in the Bible by almost all Christians. But their is something out of place with this picture we have grown up with. Can you guess what? It’s the Wise Men!

What do I mean by saying that the Wise Men are “out of place”? What I mean is that the Wise men did not bring gifts to the place where Yeshua was born. Nor were they present where He was lying in a manger, biblically. Before you cry “Blasphemy” or call me “plain silly”, I would ask you to re-read the Gospel accounts to understand the truth as I have tried to explain in the study below. If you are interested in knowing the true story – read on!

The Birth of Yeshua is mentioned only in the accounts of Matthew and Luke. Reading the account of Yeshua’s birth in the gospel of Luke (2:1-18), we find that the shepherds were indeed present at the time of His birth, and that they saw the baby laid in a Manger. The misunderstood verses are in the account of Matthew.

Please read through Mat 2:1-16 once more. I have provided the important parts of the text below, and have given a short explanation afterwards:
Mat 2:7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
Mat 2:11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
Mat 2:16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.

In the gospel of Matthew, we find that Yeshua is born in Bethlehem in the time of King Herod. Wise men come from the East to Jerusalem, to worship the one who is born “King of the Jews”. This upsets King Herod. Then he gathers the Chief priests and scribes and asks them where Christ would be born, to which they reply “In Bethlehem” according to the Prophets. Then Herod secretly asks the Wise Men when they saw this star appear in the sky. This verse is one of the keys to understanding the account written in Matthew, which we will come to shortly. Then Herod sends them to Bethlehem in search of this child king asking them to bring back information to him. Then Matthew’s account reads that the Wise men finally arrived at the “House” where Mary and Joseph resided (Not a stable). It further more reads that they came and worshiped the “Young Child” who was with his Mother (Not a baby in a Manger). They give gifts – namely, gold, frankincense, and myrrh (There is no mention of 3 Wise Men – only that there were 3 varieties of gifts). Then they return to their own country through another route without going back to Herod. Joseph is also warned to take the Child to Egypt because of Herod. Meanwhile King Herod understood that the Wise men had ignored his advice and was furious. The next verse is the Key to understanding why the Wise Men were not present at Yeshua’s birth. Matthew explains that Herod killed all the children that were in Bethlehem and in the coasts, from two years and under, “according to the time” he secretly inquired from the wise men; the time when they had seen the star appear, as we saw in Mat 2:7.

The Gospel account of Matthew is clear on these following facts
1. The wise men entered a House (Mat 2:11), not a stable with a Manger as described in Luk 2:7
2. They worshiped a young Child (Mat 2:11), not a baby in a Manger as described in Luk 2:16
3. There is no indication whether there were 3 Wise men. Only that there were 3 varieties of gifts (Mat 2:11)
4. The most important of facts from the account of Matthew is that King Herod killed the Children under 2 years according to the information from the wise men about the time the star appeared (Mat 2:7,16). This means that the Wise Men arrived in Judea some time about 2 years after Yeshua’s Birth, as the star is what informed them of His birth (Mat 2:2). Why would Herod have killed children under two years otherwise? He could have killed only newborn babies, if His birth had just happened.

Further Evidence
According to Matthew’s gospel account; Mary & Joseph took the child and fled to Egypt according to a vision/dream(Mat 2:13,14) and was there till Herod’s death(Mat 2:15). If they had fled to Egypt on the day of birth, and was away till Herod’s death; and even after his death came and only settled in Nazareth – how were they present at the Temple in Jerusalem for the circumcision on the 8th day after birth(Luk 2:21) and for the Purification after 40 days? (Luk 2:22, Lev 12:2-4).

Why did they offer a pair of turtledoves/pigeons when the Law asked that a lamb was to be sacrificed by a person who is able? If the wise men had given the gifts on the first day itself, they would have had enough money to buy a lamb instead of the turtledoves/pigeons which were a substitute only for people who could not afford a lamb(Lev 12:6-8).

Conclusion
This study is a small bit of information to understand the true account of the early years of our Messiah. Does it make a big difference to Biblical doctrine? I guess not. The importance in knowing this information, lies in the fact that the story and the pictures that are communicated to our children as well as new believers today, is Biblically inaccurate. The Wise Men were not present at the day of Yeshua’s birth. They came to Bethlehem almost 2 years after His birth possibly to the House that they were then living in. While celebration of “Christmas” or the “Birth of Christ” was never commanded, instituted or endorsed by Christ, the disciples or the writers of the New Testament books, it has now turned into a celebration where even the facts are changed and not known or understood. I hope this study has helped shine a bit of light on the events of Christ’s Birth and that in turn, it will help you understand that their are many misunderstood verses and events which are written in the Bible. And that most of the traditions that we have grown up with are biblicaly inaccurate.

Was the New Testament written in Greek or in Hebrew?

A common fact that is taught to all Christians is that the Old Testament was written in Hebrew while the New Testament was written in Greek. There is consensus among all Biblical Scholars that the Old Testament was indeed written in Hebrew. But not all scholars agree on the point that the New Testament was written in Greek. Even though most of the remaining Manuscripts of the New Testament are all in Greek, there is evidence that parts of the New Testament would have indeed been written in Hebrew and subsequently translated to Aramaic, Greek and any other languages of the day.

Matthew wrote his account of the Gospel, in Hebrew

British Library Ms Add No. 26964 Manuscript of Hebrew Matthew

One of the best pieces of evidence that exists to prove that the New Testament may have originally been written in Hebrew, is “The Gospel of Matthew”. This Gospel account which is regarded as the earliest out of the 4 Gospels contained in our Bibles, come from Matthew who was surnamed Levi and who was a Tax Collector previously. He was a Hebrew speaking man just like all of the other Disciples of Christ. There are quite a few historical witnesses who have spoken how Matthew wrote his account of the Gospel in Hebrew.

“Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon his breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia.”
(Irenaeus of Lyons – Against Heresies 3:1:1 – 180AD)

“Among the four Gospels, which are the only indisputable ones in the Church of God under heaven, I have learned by tradition that the first was written by Matthew, who was once a publican, but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, and it was prepared for the converts from Judaism and published in the Hebrew language
(Origen – Commentaries on Matthew [cited by Eusebius in History of the Church 6:25] – 244AD).

“Matthew had begun by preaching to the Hebrews, and when he made up his mind to go to others too, he committed his own Gospel to writing in his native tongue, so that for those with whom he was no longer present the gap left by his departure was filled by what he wrote” (Eusebius – History of the Church 3:24 – 300-325AD).

Matthew compiled the sayings [of the Lord] in the Hebrew Dialect, and everyone translated them as well as he could”
(Papias – quoted by Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 3:39 – 150-170AD)

Hebrew Word Puns
The second reason to take this claim seriously is the amount of “Word Puns” that the Hebrew Manuscripts of Matthew contain. While the Greek Manuscripts make little or no sense in these particular places, the Hebrew gives a rich poetic feel to the Words of Yeshua (Jesus’ true name). While the Old Testament is dotted with these Word Puns, the Greek to English Translation of the New Testament does not contain such attributes. The Hebrew version of Matthew was administered to a serious study by Professor George Howard in the 1980’s, and can be further studied through his book “Gospel of Matthew According to a Primitive Hebrew Text by George Howard”. (You can read the 1st edition of his book here) Professor Howard reviews these Word Puns contained in the Hebrew Manuscripts, in his book from page 194 – 201 which can be viewed through the above link.

Furthermore, Martin Luther, the Protestant Reformer from the 16th Century had this to say about Hebrew and the New Testament

“The Hebrew language is the best language of all … If I were younger I would want to learn this language, because no one can really understand the Scriptures without it. For although the New Testament is written in Greek, it is full of Hebraisms and Hebrew expressions. It has therefore been aptly said that the Hebrews drink from the spring, the Greeks from the stream that flows from it, and the Latins from a downstream pool.”
(Martin Luther, Table Talk, quoted in Pinchas E. Lapide, Hebrew in the Church, trans. Erroll F. Rhodes – Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984).

What difference does it make?
One of the questions that could be running through your mind right about now, could be “What difference does any of this make to my walk with God?”. What we believe today hinges completely on the Translations we read in our own native languages. Most of these translations are, translations of translations. Meaning the Greek Manuscripts get translated to Latin, then English, then into other languages from thereon. Much of the original essence could be lost in translation. A great example for this is the misunderstood sect called the Pharisees. Many Christians believe that the Pharisees were the ones keeping the Old Testament Laws. This is not Biblically accurate. (Please read this study to know more about the Pharisees). If we were familiar with the Hebrew version of Matthew, this would have been obvious. Let me explain:

Our Bibles (which are translated from the Greek Manuscripts) read in Mat 23:3 regarding the Pharisees as follows:
All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
The Hebrew Manuscripts of Matthew read the same verse as follows:
Therefore all that he says to you, diligently do, but according to their reforms(Takanot) and their precedents(Ma’asim) do not do, because they talk, but do not do.

If you are familiar with what the Pharisees taught and believed you would know what “Takanot” and “Ma’asim” refer to. These are traditions and customs that they added into God’s Word (The Holy Scriptures). “Takanot” and “Ma’asim” were sometimes even regarded more important or higher than God’s Word. Examples for Takanot and Ma’asim are, the “Washing of Hands” mentioned in Mat 15:2 and “The Breaking of the Sabbath by plucking corn” mentioned in Mat 12:2. The Hebrew Matthew gives us a better understanding of what went on in such instances, while our own Bible translations are silent on these issues.

Conclusion
There are many more instances where the Hebrew Manuscripts shed light on the Gospel stories as well as towards the collective understanding of the New Testament. While I believe that much of the New Testament would have been indeed written in Hebrew, (the native language of most of the New Testament writers) we must acknowledge that much of the Manuscripts that have survived are Greek in nature. My effort is not to say that we should get rid of the Greek Translations that we have, but to say that we must make an effort to look at all sources when studying Scripture. If these Hebrew Manuscripts were studied a little closer, maybe we wouldn’t have  grave misunderstandings regarding the characters such as the Pharisees, which has in turn led people to believe that the Old Testament has been done away with, or whoever believes or does what is said in the Old Testament are Pharisaic in nature.

Though much of the New Testament Manuscripts that we have are in Greek, most of these would have been translations of the Originals which were Hebrew. And along the way, through translation and time, we have lost most of the essence, context and connections that the originals had to the people, places and atmosphere that these books and letters were written in. It is my firm belief that we need to go back to the Roots of our Faith, in search of “True Christianity”, not one which is divided, but one which is in agreement with the entirety of Scripture being one body with Christ.

The misunderstood parable of New and Old Wine

Christ often spoke in parables and sometimes the interpretations are also recorded clearly in the Gospels. In Matthew 9:9-17, Mark 2:14-22 & Luke 5:27-39, Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) spoke another parable to the pharisees, which He did not provide an interpretation afterwards. The “Parable of the New & Old Wine” is often used to say that Yeshua was discarding the Old Mosaic Law, while introducing “A New Law which was built on Truth & Grace”. We will delve into this misunderstood parable and try to understand (with proper context) what Yeshua was really trying to say.

If time permits, I suggest that you also read “Who the pharisees were” which shows how they were not keepers of God’s Law & “Did Christ overule the Old Ten Commandments with 2 New Commandments?” which shows how Yeshua merely quoted the 2 New Commandments from the Old Testament and that He did not introduce a New Law.

For the purpose of this study, we will use the reading from Luke to investigate and understand what Yeshua was trying to say taking proper context into consideration. (I have highlighted the important parts below).

Luk 5:27-39  And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. And he left all, rose up, and followed him. And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them. But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners? And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink? And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.

Notice how this Parable is connected to a feast made in Levi’s House. Levi, who is also called Matthew in Mat 9:9, follows Yeshua leaving his work which was Tax Collecting, and makes a feast to which Yeshua was invited. Many of Levi’s friends and some who were Tax Collector’s(Publicans) were also present at his house.

The Scribes and Pharisees who kept a close eye on Yeshua all the time, ask Him why He is sharing a meal in the midst of sinners and tax collectors. Yeshua answers them by saying that He came to bring sinners to repentance.

Then they ask Yeshua, why His disciples do not fast often, and pray, like the disciples of the pharisees. To which Yeshua answers by saying that they will fast when He is taken away from them.

Then He goes onto convey the parable which is in question. Before we move onto the Parable, I want you to understand the context behind this parable and why Yeshua said this parable to the Pharisees. (We know that the Pharisees were actually hypocrites and keepers of their own laws and traditions which were against God’s Commandments).

Proper Context
Let us observe the events leading to this parable. Luke 5 starts off with Yeshua asking Peter, James & John to follow Him, which meant becoming His disciples. This was a bold move for a person who was gaining respect throughout Judea as a great Rabbi/Teacher. There would have been so many more well educated people He could have chosen from the Scribes or the Pharisees, but He opted to choose lowly fishermen. In Luke 5:27, Yeshua enrolls a Tax Collector named Levi, next as one of His disciples. First, fishermen and now a Tax Collector – The Pharisees and Scribes would have been furious. Fishermen were “uneducated” while Tax Collectors were “traitors” in the eyes of the Pharisees. This is the background behind this event and the parable of interest.

Yeshua’s choice in disciples were a concern to the Pharisees and they found fault with them saying “Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but yours eat and drink?” This was the reason behind the parable that Yeshua put forward to the people who questioned Him.

Now that we understand that the reason behind the parable was “the question about His disciples”, let’s move on to decipher the parable.

Part I of the Parable
No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old.

Part II of the Parable
And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.'”

Using proper context, we understood above, that this parable was spoken out as a reply to the questioning which came up regarding Yeshua’s choice of disciples. Using this context we can come to a proper interpretation as follows:
Old Garment/ Old Wineskin = Disciples who have learned Pharisaical TeachingsThe Piece from a New Garment/ New Wine = New/Proper Teaching of God’s Word
New Wineskin = Disciples who are open to learning God’s Word/who have not learned pharisaic ways
Old Wine = Pharisaic Teaching of God’s Word which is God’s Word mixed and changed with their own laws, traditions and teachings

(In the parables given above, “The Old Garment” and “The Old Wineskin” are parallels, meaning they represent the same idea. In the same way, “The Piece from a New Garment” and “The New Wine” are also parallels. The “New Wineskin” is obviously the opposite of the “Old Wineskin” in the same way that the “Old Wine” is the opposite of the “New Wine”.)

Let’s try to read the Parable again with the interpretation given above, to see whether it makes sense in proper context, as an answer to the Pharisees.

Part 1 of Parable No one tears “a piece from a new garment” and puts it on an “old garment”. If he does, he will tear the “new”, and “the piece from the new” will not match the “old”.
Interpretation No one can put “New/Proper Teaching of God’s Word” into a “Disciples who have learned Pharisaical Teachings”. If done, the “New/Proper Teaching of God’s Word” will go to waste, as it will not match the lifestyle of the “Disciples who have learned Pharisaical Teachings”

Part 2 of Parable And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.'”
Interpretation And no one puts “New/Proper Teaching of God’s Word” into “Disciples who have learned Pharisaical Teachings”. If done, “Disciples who have learned Pharisaical Teachings” will not be able to contain the “New/Proper Teaching of God’s Word” and the “New/Proper Teaching of God’s Word” will go to waste, and the “Disciples who have learned Pharisaical Teachings” will be condemned/destroyed(because they rejected the proper teaching). But “New/Proper Teaching of God’s Word” must be put into “Disciples who are open to learning God’s Word/who have not learned pharisaic ways”. And no one after learning “Pharisaic Teaching of God’s Word which is God’s Word mixed and changed with their own laws, traditions and teachings” desires “New/Proper Teaching of God’s Word”, for he says, ‘The “Pharisaic Teaching of God’s Word which is God’s Word mixed and changed with their own laws, traditions and teachings” is good.'”

Using this interpretation we can come to the conclusion that Yeshua was indeed speaking in context, to the pharisees, who were questioning Him about how He was choosing uneducated sinners as disciples. To which Yeshua replied by a parable that showed how it was better for Him to choose “uneducated sinners” over the so called “educated ones learning pharisaic doctrine, which was clearly against God’s Word“. He spoke how He needed to choose new wineskins so that He could pour the “correct teaching of God’s Word” into them, while old wineskins which contained “different teachings” could never hold the correct teaching of God. This was the simple argument He made with this parable, so that the pharisees would not question Him anymore.

Some have interpreted this parable to say the “Old Wine” represents the “Old Mosaic Laws/Commandments” while “New Wine” represents “Grace and Truth”. One who studies the bible will understand that “God’s Word/Commandments are not against Truth, but Truth itself” and that you cannot pit God’s Commandments against Grace and Truth.

I am not, in any way, saying that this is the final and conclusive interpretation of this Parable. But I am offering everyone a chance to look at the parable afresh with proper context according to God’s Word. As I always say, Do not believe anyone. Read it for yourself and check whether what you understand, is in complete agreement with everything written in the Scriptures. For too long, we have been giving ear to people who have taken things out of context and given their own interpretations, that do not gel with God’s Word completely. Test this interpretation with the same critical mentality and may the Holy Spirit, the helper, who is there to help us understand God’s Word, help you in having a closer walk with our Father in heaven.